Windows Server 2012: Microsoft's Cloud OS Leaves the Gate

by Pedro Hernandez

Microsoft makes it official in releasing a server OS that's "built from the cloud up."

This week marks the official launch of Windows Server 2012. Having reached this major milestone, Microsoft is hoping that IT execs will settle on its server operating system for private, public and hybrid clouds -- plus some other big workloads.

And it's just in time too, as the cloud platform battle is growing more heated and competitive with every passing minute.

Microsoft announced Windows 2012 general availability Tuesday during an online launch event whose theme was "built from the cloud up." Describing the event as "an epic moment for us" during an online launch event video on Tuesday, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools division, said that for his company's latest server OS, "we have set out to build the cloud operating system."

Part of building a cloud OS -- and fending off an invigorated VMware and a young yet influential OpenStack ecosystem -- meant bulking up Hyper-V, Microsoft's virtualization tech.

Included in the enterprise-grade versions of the OS, Hyper-V can now handle bigger workloads with support for up to 1 TB of memory per virtual machine. Virtual storage support has been upgraded as well, to an upper limit of 64 terabytes per virtual disk.

Windows 2012 also paves the way for big clusters -- up to 64 nodes and 4,000 virtual machines per cluster. Other upgrades include Shared-Nothing Live Migration's virtual machine migration over Ethernet capabilities Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Network Virtualization's multi-tenant enabling tech and cross-subnet live migration features.

Facing a Competitive Cloud Market

Microsoft does face some stiff competition in the cloud platform space.

OpenStack is practically overflowing with supporters, including SUSERed HatHP and a growing number of startups and industry vets alike, all vying for a piece of the rapidly expanding market surrounding open source cloud platform.

And at VMworld last month, VMware signaled that it's serious about the cloud by announcing that it is dropping the controversial vRAM pricing scheme for vSphere 5.1, the foundational technology behind the company's vCloud Suite.

According to Microsoft, the company fully realizes how the IT landscape is being reshaped by the cloud and contends Windows 2012 is well positioned to meet the challenge. "The operating system has always been the heartbeat of IT and is now undergoing a renaissance in the new world of continuous cloud services, connected devices and big data," Nadella said in a press statement.

Nadella informs that "many customers are already using this operating system in production" thanks to early access programs and, in some ways, Microsoft itself. Unsurprisingly, the company is one of its own biggest customers, with Windows Server helping to power big online properties and online services like Bing, Office 365 and Outlook.com.

Nadella also hinted that the Windows Server team has its sights set on tackling Big Data. Citing his company's work involving SQL and Hadoop, the OS boasts "support for any data, any size and anywhere," he says.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Sep 5th 2012
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